An important macro-economic theme is this idea that all countries think that the path to economic salvation lies in being an export powerhouse, and running a nice trade surplus.
Unfortunately that’s an impossibility on a global basis. All those trade surpluses have to show up as trade deficits somewhere else. It’s maths.
The question is: who will be the winners and losers. Right now the winners are Germany and China, and as such they’re probably the two most hated countries in the world right now. The US and Japan are angry at China. The eurozone is angry at Germany.
Anyway, it’s clear that the US is losing already, despite rhetoric from Obama.
Calculated Risk has the latest LA Port data, and it shows that while imports are surging, exports are already sliding again
Loaded inbound traffic was up 24% compared to August 2009. Inbound traffic is now up 4% vs. two years ago (August ’08).
Loaded outbound traffic was down 2.6% from August 2009. Unlike imports, exports are still off from 2 years ago (off 17%).
Based on this data, it appears the trade deficit with Asia increased again in August. Not only have the pre-crisis global imbalances returned, but exports appear to have peaked in May (no clear seasonal pattern), and have moved sideways or down over the last 6 months.
Here’s the chart:
Photo: Calculated Risk
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